COP26 Glasgow
COP26 Glasgow has set the ball in motion by becoming the first climate deal to explicitly commit to reducing the use of coal Image Credit: Gulf News

Glasgow played host to COP26 last year which was one of the most important and largest events that Scotland has ever staged. The UN climate conference not only brought world leaders together to agree on how to address the climate crisis, but it reinforced that there is no plan B or second chance — the time for action is now.

More than 40,000 people registered to attend COP26 — more than any of the previous COPs. 120 world leaders arrived on Scottish shores to listen, collaborate, and formulate solutions. Leading innovators and academics from Scotland and beyond presented their solutions to the global climate emergency.

Thousands of activists descended on Glasgow to add their voices to conference discussions and champion the needs of people most severely affected by the crisis. A lot happened over those two weeks and throughout, the people of Glasgow and Scotland delivered the warm welcome that our country is renowned for.

The final outcomes of COP26 were mixed, but were nevertheless a huge leap forward in the race to net zero. The eyes of the world were on the conversations taking place in Glasgow, and they continue to watch and ensure promises made are not broken. From our experience at COP26, the Scottish Government is firmly of the view that meaningful progress can be achieved, no matter how difficult this may be, when we come together, share knowledge, and listen to one another.

Global collaboration

As Egypt prepares for COP27 this year and the UAE prepares for COP28 in 2023, global collaboration must continue to prevail in this manner. We must keep one another accountable in our promises and work together to deliver a green, more prosperous future that keeps our people and planet safe. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are demonstrating their intention with pledges to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and 2060 respectively. By working together, we can move from challenge to opportunity.

Representatives from government, industry and academia who attended COP26 left with a positive impression of Scotland’s low-carbon capabilities and an understanding of what’s possible in the green energy revolution. We took the opportunity to strengthen relationships with countries and regions across the world; the UAE will soon have its moment to do the same.

Glasgow’s hosting of the conference provided a platform for Scottish companies to present their world-leading capabilities in offshore wind, hydrogen and CCUS. Scotland was also able to showcase how our business community works — with a supportive policy environment and access to leading science and technology.

Scotland’s energy journey has had to pivot completely as the impact of carbon emissions has become more apparent. We are now accelerating delivery of renewable energy at pace, with a target of reaching net zero by 2045.

Exciting times for renewables

These are incredibly exciting times for renewables; Scotland now has the biggest offshore wind market in the world and major players in the global energy sector want to be part of it. For example, a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind potential is in Scotland and there is 4GW of offshore wind infrastructure either operational or under construction, and another 6GW in the pipeline.

ScotWind, the world’s largest commercial round for floating offshore wind, puts Scotland at the forefront of offshore wind development globally. The conclusion of the leasing auction is a tremendous vote of confidence in Scotland and the level of ambition shown by the market recognises the seriousness of Scotland’s commitment to achieving our net zero targets and economic growth.

Furthermore, offshore wind is going to play a massive part in the development of Scotland’s green hydrogen sector.

We hope that, as we continue our climate mission post-COP26 at leading business events such as Expo 2020 Dubai, more international partners will recognise these capabilities. Over the last three years, Scotland has secured about 6.5 per cent of all the low carbon FDI into Europe, and we continue to set our sights on global investment opportunities.

Race to Net Zero

This week, Scotland is hosting two dedicated ‘Race to Net Zero’ events at Expo 2020 Dubai which will showcase our global hydrogen potential and ambitions, as well as innovations in food security and environmental monitoring.

Our events come as the UAE prepares to host the first ever MENA climate week from March 28-31 in Dubai, which the Scottish Government has been invited to take part in to discuss how we bridge the gap between commitments and action for a 1.5 degree resilient world.

Leaders and innovators from Scotland are committed to sharing opportunities for collaboration in the Middle East as we rise to the challenge of delivering net zero by 2045 in a way that’s fair for all. We look forward to sharing our net zero agenda with the UAE and the wider Middle East region this week, and in the months and years ahead.

Ivan McKee is Scotland’s Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise